Remarks by Ambassador Ahmet Akif Oktay at the Joint Meeting of Turkey-Vietnam and Vietnam-Turkey Business Councils

Ahmet Akif Oktay 19.11.2012

Madam Secretary General,
Distinguished Chairmen of the Vietnam-Turkey and Turkey-Vietnam Business Councils,
Mr. Deputy Director General,
Esteemed Participants and Guests,

I am very pleased to attend this important meeting between the representatives and members of the business communities of Turkey and Vietnam. I also want to express my thanks and appreciation to the VCCI for hosting this event at its premises.
The Turkish delegation comprises the chairmen and CEOs of some of the leading companies in Turkey. It represents a broad cross-section of Turkish industrial and service sectors. Important Vietnamese companies are also represented here. I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you and hope that your deliberations, both here and in Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow, will be fruitful.
In today’s globalized world, business knows no boundaries. Despite their geographical distance, the volume of trade between Turkey and Vietnam is now over $ 1 billion. Turkey has become one of Vietnam’s leading markets in Asia and Europe.
We believe we can double this amount in the near future and push it to even higher levels. But it will take mutual effort and increased direct contacts like this one.
We must also speed up the conclusion of the agreements on the promotion of investments and prevention of double taxation, which are almost ready to be signed during a high-level visit. Likewise, we hope that the exploratory talks we held regarding a prospective Free Trade Agreement will result in concrete progress toward such a deal.
As we all know, trade is a two way street. At the moment, however, the trajectory of our mutual trade puts Turkey at a heavy disadvantage.
In a free trade world, this may be nobody’s fault. Yet, it is in our common interest to find ways of restoring some balance to our trade, so that our partnership becomes truly permanent and can fulfill its real potential.
I believe there is sufficient complementarity between the economies and markets of both countries to expand our commercial ties in a healthy and sustainable manner.
The vitality and dynamism of our respective economies is a strong common denominator that will facilitate the expansion of our economic partnership.
Turkish economy grew by 9.2 percent in 2010 and 8.5 per cent in 2011. Turkey now has the world’s 16th, and Europe’s 6th largest economy, with an annual trade volume of over $ 300 billion.
Turkey’s GDP is approaching $ 1 trillion and her average per capita income has reached USD 10,400.
In 2011, Turkey was the world’s 12th most popular destination for FDI flows, with almost 16 billion dollars’ worth of investments. In the same year, 36 million foreign tourists visited Turkey, earning the country $ 23 billion.
Turkey has set herself a number of goals for the year 2023, when we will celebrate the centennial of our Republic. Some of them are:
• Becoming one of the top 10 economies of the world,
• Achieving a GDP of $ 2 trillion,
• Reaching an annual trade volume of $ 1 trillion, and
• Receiving 50 million tourists a year.
Our progress so far gives us confidence that these targets are realistic and within our reach.
Vietnam also has similar targets for the future, the most important of which is to become a fully industrialized nation by the year 2020.
Between 2000 and 2010, Vietnam’s economy achieved an average annual growth rate of 7.2 percent. In this process, Vietnam has greatly reduced poverty, joined the WTO, become a powerful magnet for foreign investments and joined the ranks of middle income countries.
Vietnam’s steady progress toward full industrialization and modernization goes on. We have full confidence in Vietnamese people’s and leadership’s ability to overcome any temporary difficulties that may arise along the way and complete this journey.
With a view to achieving her national goals, Vietnam is working hard to improve her education, infrastructure, energy, health, tourism and other sectors which are key to achieving sustainable economic growth.
All these sectors are also those in which Turkey has good experience, know-how and expertise. The two countries can work together in order to learn and benefit from the best practices of each other in such fields. In this context, Turkey’s strong contracting sector can play a major role in Vietnam’s infrastructure development projects.
Even before I took up my duties in Hanoi, I began to encourage Turkish entrepreneurs to pay serious attention to the abundant investment opportunities in Vietnam. I will continue to do so. But if she wants to attract more FDI from Turkey faster, Vietnam must also make a renewed effort to promote her potential in Turkey.
I see two interconnected steps as essential to our common goal of boosting our trade and increasing mutual investments.
The first step involves promoting reciprocal business visits and contacts.
Perhaps the most important need is to streamline, facilitate and expedite mutual visa procedures. We have already proposed the holding of consular consultations between Turkey and Vietnam, in which this issue will also be discussed.
Secondly, transport and communication links between the two countries must be strong, regular and efficient. Since last year, Turkish Airlines has been running daily flights between Ho Chi Minh City and İstanbul. I believe that passenger flights to Hanoi may follow suit in the near future.
At the same time, we have begun to explore the possibility of signing a maritime coperation agreement with Vietnam.
Active mutual participation in fairs and exhibitions in each country is also a must. Next May, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce will organize the first Turkish Products Exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City. We hope to see similar Vietnamese exhibitions in Turkey as well.
The second step is to provide easy access to reliable, satisfactory and timely information about the conditions, regulations and needs of different sectors, markets and companies in both countries.
The official trade missions in each country are doing their best to provide companies with such information. But the two-way information flows will become more effective and lead to more tangible results if we can also open direct permanent channels of communication and devise new ways of exchanging data between the respective private sectors.
In this regard, measures like the establishment of a joint data base over the internet or launching a subscription-based web site, and opening mutual representative offices by Chambers of Commerce or market research centers in each country can be considered.
As I conclude, I wish to underline my conviction that Turkey and Vietnam’s economic partnership has only just begun to take off. With growing contacts and cooperation between our respective business communities, it will soar to ever greater heights in the years to come. The Turkish Embassy will continue to lend strong support to your joint efforts in that direction.
Thank you.

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